Goodbye, geese

Canada geese on the banks of Lake LaVerne.

Lancelot (or Elaine) tries to drive Canada geese from the swans' territory on and around Lake LaVerne. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Lancelot and Elaine call Lake LaVerne home, but often have unwelcome visitors move in and make a mess. This week, an environmentally friendly deterrent will be installed to make the area less inviting to Canada geese and the "stuff" they leave behind.

"Geese are a problem for us on campus," said campus services manager Les Lawson. "Goose droppings are a big issue -- they raise the nitrate levels of the lake, which promotes green algae growth. For pedestrians and visitors, the aesthetics and the aggressive habits of mating pairs also are a concern."

A solar-powered light, available through Ohio-based Away With Geese, may be the answer. Once installed, a flashing amber light will activate from dusk until dawn -- essentially annoying the geese enough to move on to a different location.

"Geese like to have open water so they have a safe place to rest at night," Lawson said. "If we can take that safe place away from them, hopefully they will find another place to reside."

The device will float on the pond year-round, with the light at eye level for geese trying to overnight in the area. Because of sensitive eyesight and sleep habits unique to geese, other birds -- including ISU's iconic swans -- should not be affected.

"Geese sleep with their heads up and the light bothers them," Lawson said. "Swans sleep with their heads under their wings, so the light should not bother them."

Peaceful surroundings

Passersby likely will not notice anything more than a dimly blinking light on the water -- a humane alternative to chemicals, noise-making devices and other harsh deterrents.

Lawson said they are starting with one light, but additional devices may be needed to cover the area. At less than $400 per unit, he said this cost-effective, maintenance-free and environmentally friendly option was worth a try. And if it works, the benefits will be enjoyed by the lake's visitors and permanent residents.

"Swans and geese do not get along very well," Lawson said. "Our swans are constantly trying to push the geese off the lake, so I am hoping they can have some peace."